US STOCKS-S&P 500 hits record high ahead of Biden's spending plan outline

This article was originally published on this site

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Walgreens rises after forecast raise

* U.S. private payrolls increase in March

* Three main indexes headed for quarterly gains

* Apple rises as UBS upgrades to ‘buy’

* Indexes up: Dow 0.06%, S&P 0.55%, Nasdaq 1.62% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

March 31 (Reuters) – Technology shares helped the S&P 500 rise to a record high on Wednesday, as investors awaited details on President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure plan, while Wall Street was set to wrap up its fourth straight quarterly gain.

The $3 trillion-$4 trillion package that will target traditional projects like roads and bridges alongside investments in the electric vehicle market.

The size and scale of the proposal, as well as the question of how it would be paid for is likely to set the stage for the next partisan clash in Congress.

Unprecedented stimulus and a swift vaccine rollout in the United States helped the S&P 500 and the Dow hit record closing highs last week.

The Nasdaq jumped more than 1.5% on Wednesday, but the index is about 6% off its all-time peak as high-flying tech names have been hit by a surge in U.S. 10-year bond yields.

“Today’s market is back to technology and away from the industrial economic reopening and certainly infrastructure stocks that were in focus yesterday,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“It’s very much a binary market – either technology or economic reopening trade – depending on the news of the day and that’s really been the theme over the last 3-4 weeks.”

After leading Wall Street’s rally from the coronavirus-lows of last year, the Nasdaq’s 3% gain has lagged the S&P 500’s 6% rise and the Dow 8% addition this quarter.

At 11:34 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20.23 points, or 0.06%, to 33,046.73, and the S&P 500 gained 21.64 points, or 0.55%, to 3,980.19 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 211.45 points, or 1.62%, to 13.256.84.

Apple Inc rose 2.6% after brokerage UBS upgraded the stock to “buy” on stable long-term demand for iPhones with better authorized service providers.

Technology sector added about 1.6%, while financials and energy stocks dropped in a reversal of this quarter’s trend.

Latest numbers showed U.S. private employers boosted hiring in March as more Americans got vaccinated against COVID-19. The report is in line with recent signs of improvement in the labor market and comes ahead of the more comprehensive monthly jobs report on Friday.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc advanced 5% after raising its 2021 profit forecast on higher sales at its U.S. retail pharmacy stores.

Chewy Inc jumped 10% as brokerages raised their price targets on the stock after the online pet product retailer posted fourth-quarter profit from year-ago loss.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.3-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.9-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and no new low while the Nasdaq recorded 66 new highs and 33 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sriraj Kalluvila and Arun Koyyur)